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April 01, 1960 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1960-04-01

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THE DETROIT JEW ISH NEWS -- Friday, April 1, 196 0 —

Purely Commentary

aci J I

President's Days
of Disillusionment

ay rnmp ur. Haltom &Ives

Dr. Chaim Weizmann's Last Days Depicted in 'Hollow Glory'

Borman Lecture
at WSU April 6

Dr. Chaim Weizmann, the brilliant scientist, the eminent ist Congress at which the leader of the movement was being
"Medieval Judaism Under
Zionist leader, the guiding genius of the forces that created the
shelved. They roinained the closest friends. Weisgal became
ChristendOm and Islam" will
foundation for the Jewish State, the First President of that Weizmann's right hand man, his closest confidant, the one
State, was often lonely. He was often unhappy. In his latter person who could frequently get him into a happy mood with be the topic of the Borman
Near Eastern Lecture to be
years, he grieved over the failure of the officials of Israel to his humorous stories and his ability to inspire faith. Weisgal
call upon him for advice and guidance, for leadership in state- remained in that position of confidence, and as the organizing delivered in Room L of Mc-
Gregor Memorial Conference
craft. He felt neglected.
genius of the Weizmann Institute, was Primarily responsible
"Hollow Glory—the Last Days o f for the glory attached to the Weizmann name through the Center at 8 p.m. Wednesday,
by Prof. Abraham S. Halkin,
Chaim Weizmann, First Presiden t Institute of Science at Rehovot. He remains in that position
of the Jewish Theological
of Israel," by Shmuel Shihor, pub- of leadership to this day.
Seminary and the College of
lished by Thomas Yoseloff (11 E.
Weizmann often called for W e i s g a 1. When he needed the City of New York.
36th, N. Y. 16), tells the story of
At 2 p.m. Wednesday, Dr.
solace he found it in his conversations with that bushy-haired
the sadnesses of his final years.
But the narrative of sadness dynamo. Shihor's book pays tribute to Weisgal: "The wonder- Halkin will speak in the Kresge
emerges as a gigantic story of a ful thing about Meyer was that not only had he a phenomenal Auditorium of Wayne State
great man's recollections of a ric flair for organization, but he devoted his whole life and blood, UniVersity on "The Tension
life's experiences. It is primaril heart and soul to it. . He did nothing extempore; everything Between Reason and Faith in
Medieval Jewish Literature."
through the person who served a was planned and organized, and when
Dr. G. Merrill Lenox, execu-
his bodyguard, as his chauffeur he organized something it was done
tive director of the Detroit and
as his confidant—Joshua Harla ' on the grand scale. One.couldn't come
Michigan Councils of Churches,
who provided most of the .facts for on an official visit to the Institute
introduce Dr. Malkin at the
Dr. Weizmann
this book—that Chaim Weizmann
evening lecture. Prof. Alfred
toes—so that he could put the Insti-
is portrayed in this impressive book.
tute on its head!" Weizmann knew it.
Kelly, chairman of the depart-
Shihor is fortunate in having had an able translator— The Weisgal - Weizmann friendship
ment of history, which is co-
Julian L. Meltzer, former New York Times correspondent and is perhaps the closest alliance of
sponsoring the afternoon lec-
now director of public relations of the Weizmann Institute in friendship in Zionist history.
ture, will introduce the speaker
Israel. Meltzer's English text is as splendid as the story that
at 2 p.m.
was written in Hebrew. Furthermore, Meltzer's enlightening in
Dr. Halkin, associate profes-
Weizmann meeting at the 17th World
troduction 'adds -to the merits of the book.
sor of Jewish history at the
Zionist Congress in Basle, in 1931, at
Jewish Theological Seminary,
While "Hollow Glory" deals with the last days of Weiz- the Three Kings Hotel, the subse-
of America, is a noted author
mann, the flashbacks, the reminiscenses incorporated in the
quent relationships between them,
and lecturer on Jewish and
reveries of the great leader make it a nearly-complete biog- Weisgal's theatrical enterprises (start-
Moslem history and culture in
raphy of the distinguished leader.
ing with "The Romance of a People"
medieval and modern times.
Meltzer's introduction goes quite a .long way to explain Dr. at the Chicago World Fair, to which
Born in Russia in
Weizmann's role-at World Zionist Congresses, in his ideological he brought Weizmann to address an audience of 131,000)—a came to the U.S. in 1903, be
battles with the Revisionists, in his dedication to the great ideals score of instances portray Weisgal's role in the Weizmann story. obtained his B.A. in 1914. He
1924, his
of Zionism.
And all the time, as Joshua Harlap, Weizmann's chauffeur M.A. in 1926, and his Ph.D. in
Dr. Weizmann was a tired man. He was ordered by the and bodyguard, recalls Weizmann's moods and reactions during 1936, all at Columbia Univer-
doctors to rest and to remain in bed. But he traveled wherever the last years of his life, the pages constantly are being turned sity.
necessary, he sought audiences with President Truman, he back, as Weizmann reminisces, as historical events are flash-
Dr. Halkin also is professor
pleaded for a Jewish State before United Nations commissions. backed, as the great leader recalls names and events, world per- of Hebrew at the City College
Meltzer describes in detail the sacrifices that were made by sonalities and occurences, as they affected the Zionest fortunes. of New York, and a former
Weizmann in behalf of the Zionist cause. He relates how Weiz-
lecturer in Semitics at Colum-
Weizmann's role in the establishment of the Hebrew Uni-
mann frequently resorted to Yiddish expressions, how he turned versity, his meetings with Baron Edmond de Rothschild whom
to the prayer book for solace, the effectiveness with which he he interested in the university project and in the acquisition of
quoted from the Prophets in his appeal before the UN ad hoc the original site for the university; Weizmann's meetings with
committee on Palestine at Lake Success.
Arthur James Balfour and with David Lloyd George, his con-
tributions to Britain's military needs during World War I, the
"Chaim Weizmann was that unique combination, a product
subsequent issuance of the Balfour Declaration, — these and
of the conditions peculiar to his own times and fashioned by
many more happenings contribute to the importance of "Hollow
them, and at the same time a rare manifestation of factors
Glory," which seemed to have been judged as hollow only dur-
molded by the long historical experience of his people," Melt-
ing the final, sad years of Weizmann's life, but which was the
zer writes in his evaluation of the eminent leader and states-
glory of a great genius during an active lifetime.
man. "Weizmann was at once a traditionalist who cherished a
deep affection bordering upon reverence for the ritualistic
It was just that: a very • active lifetime. Weizmann utilized
pattern and orthodox ways of his people, and an innovator every opportunity to advance the Zionist cause. He met with
who abhorred dogma and inflexible doctrine and brought his Albert Einstein and they became close friends and associates in
faculty of empirical inquiry—that trait of a scientific mind— Zionism. He succeeded in converting the famous Prof. Paul
to the examination and solution of all problems. To his people Ehrlich, and although th latter died before his scientific knowl-
he was the truly inspired leader, who became the personified edge could have been utilized in Zionism's behalf, it
is on record,
embodiment of their revealed destiny. To other peoples out- nevertheless, that Weizmann's persuasiveness
was successful in
side his own fold he was 'the first totally free Jew of the negotiations with the great scientists of his time—with Nobel
modern world.' "
Prize winner Fritz Haber as well as with Prof. Ehrlich and others.
Shihor's story of the scientist-statesman, which inspired
He succeeded with non-Jews as well—with General Allenby
Meltzer's tribute, is a unique account of Weizmann's last days. as well as with Orde Wingate and Wyndham Deeded. What hurt PROF. ABRAHAM S. HALM
With great skill, the Hebrew author, in his flashbacks, portrays Weizmann is that on occasions his own people—amo—did not bia University. He is
Weizmann as a man of vision, as a brilliant planner, as an go along with him as readily as he had hoped they would.
Thus, of the American Academy for
able Zionist propagandist.
on one of his rides through the countryside, just before he Jewish Research, and is affl-
Among his earliest proposals, dating back to, his apposition officially became President of Israel, he had a chat, at one of Hated with the Society of
to the Uganda plan, was his "magic concept"—the development the settlements near Rehovot, with a blind man. The latter, not Biblical Literature, the Ameri-
of El-Arish area in the Sinai Peninsula as a vast Jewish settle- knowing the identity of the man he was conversing with, kept can Oriental Society, the Jewish
ment. In "Hollow Glory," the early Weizmann scheme is eval- talking of Weizmann. He predicted he would be President, but he Historical Society of Israel,
uated as an antecedent to David Ben-Gurion's hopes for vast criticized him for errors—for weaknesses in dealing with the and the Israel Exploration
developments in the Negev, as the practical counter-proposal to British. Much of the Shihor story is a defense against just such Society.
the still-born Uganda plan. "What a strange, wonderful dream criticisms.
He has traveled extensively
. ." this was to. Weizmann as he mused about the past, and as
Israel and Europe, and
As Weizmann pondered over his new status in Israel, where studied
Joshua recalled the musings in the account he gave to Shihor.
for a period at Oxford
he no longer was the main in power, his thoughts are quoted
University, England.
Some of Weizmann's anecdotes are related in "Hollow thus:
Dr. Halkin is married to the
Glory." One of them is about the shidduch between a young
"Here, in Israel, I am nothing. Although I struggled hard daughter of the late Rabbi Meir
man and a girl from Pinsk. The shadchan had his difficulties,
to establish the State, I paid little attention to the nation Berlin (Bar-Han) , who served
but the match was made, and, on the appointed day the shad-
dwelling in it. Just as I found no time for my sons, to be a
as president of the World
chan came and found everything in order for the wedding.
father to them, just a father, so could I find no time for Mizrachi Organization. Bar-
But no one had thought of waiting for him, "without whose
the people in Israel, to be their leader and guide. But they,
Ilan University in Israel was
good offices the match might never have been arranged."
they in the Diaspora, they know me, ah, how well they know founded as a tribute to his
"You can imagine how the shadchan felt when he found they •
me! I htad gone into their lives and their pockets, and de- memory. Dr. Halkin's brother-
hadn't even left one blessing for him," Weizmann said, in re-
manded that they give more and more—at least, I spoke to
in-law is the world-renowned
lating his story. "That's how I feel now, dear Joshua. I came
them, smiled at them. And now I am old and President of
Talmudic scholar, Prof. Saul
here and find that the wedding had taken place without me.
Israel, but there in the Diaspora I am something greater, Lieberman of the Jewish Theo-
All right, let it be, the sooner the better. But it apparently
albeit something almost peculiar in character which I had logical Seminary. His brother,
didn't occur to anyone to remember that I, too, had the right
never anticipated or intended—a kind of Rosh Galutha, Prince Dr. Simon Halkin, is the dist-
coming to me at least to sign our Declaration of Independence
of the Dispersion, of the Third Temple period . . ."
inguished Hebrew poet and
along with the others. After all, I was the shadchan. The
shidduch wasn't at all easy to put through. We even had to
That is how the thought that he was no longer a leader but expert on Hebrew literature
who is presently professor of
get the consent of our 'patron,' and as the shadchan, I ran merely a figurehead plagued him.
Hebrew literature at the He-
to see Truman, cajoled and argued and finally obtained his
His life story reveals, indeed, that he was the Prince of the brew University in Jerusalem.
blessing. They might at least have left one of the seven bless- Dispersion. His witticisms, his repartee, his masterful arguments
ings for me—a blank space for my signature, even if it were for Zionism created friends and followers. Shihor recalls this
only the last one. I'm telling you this so that your son may statement from one of his speeches:
Israel Acts to Provide
know the answer if he ever asks one day, 'where was your
"We are reproached by the whole world. We are told that Doctors in Rural Areas
Professor at the time when the State was proclaimed?' "
we are dealers in old clothes, junk. We are perhaps the sons of
(Direct JTA Teletype Wire
to The Jewish News)
That's how Weizmann felt about his having been treated dealers in old clothes, but we are the grandsons of Prophets.
merely as a figurehead President of the State he helped create. Think of the grandsons, and not of the sons."
JERUSALEM — Physicians
He was deeply hurt, and he constantly referred to his having
Weizmann's last years at Rehovot were not too happy. newly-employed in public dis-
been ignored in policy-making. for Israel.
There were pathetic moments, when he spoke only Yiddish, pensaries will be required to
Weizmann's meetings with Truman were not easily arranged. when he kept calling for Meyer Weisgal, when he asked for the undertake .^ year of service in
Eddie Jacobson, Truman's one-time haberdashery partner, man- Mahzor. But he found joy in the flowerbeds facing his window. border villages or development
aged to secure the audience for Weizmann. Jacobson's personal He kept recalling the old days—in his home town of Motol, in areas, Israel Barzilai, Israel
Minister of Health, ai.nounced
account of his efforts as an intermediary is part of this in- Pinsk, in London, in Washington, in Jerusalem . . .
Tuesday. The move was aimed
teresting book.
Out of "Hollow Glory," in spite of all its pathos, there at overcoming a shortage of
Meyer Weisgal plays an important role in this historical
emerges a tale about a very great man. The genius of Weizmann medical personnel in Israel's
narrative. Weisgal had befriended Weizmann at a World Zion- t 1 Ives in every page of this very interesting book.
more remote sections.

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